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Supreme Court to rule next week on whether judicial review challenge over neighbourhood plan was out of time

The Supreme Court will next week (14 May) hand down its ruling on whether section 61N of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 should be interpreted to mean that a landowner’s application for judicial review – over the making of a neighbourhood development plan without a modification proposed by an independent examiner – was made out of time.

The background to case of R (on the application of Fylde Coast Farms Ltd (formerly Oyston Estates Ltd)) (Appellant) v Fylde Borough Council (Respondent) – UKSC 2019/0167 was that St Anne's on the Sea Town Council submitted a proposal to Fylde Borough Council, the local planning authority, for a neighbourhood development plan.

The draft plan related to land adjacent to that owned by Fylde Coast Farms. Under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the draft plan was considered by an independent examiner, who made a report to Fylde Borough Council, recommending that the plan be modified to include land owned by Fylde Coast Farms and then submitted to a referendum.

Fylde Borough Council decided to submit the draft plan to a referendum without the proposed modification. 90% of those voting in the referendum supported the draft plan and Fylde Borough Council subsequently published its decision to make the plan.

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Just under six weeks later, Fylde Coast Farms applied for a judicial review of the council’s decision to make the plan without the examiner’s proposed modification.

The Planning Court held that Fylde Coast Farm’s challenge related to Fylde Borough Council’s decision to hold the referendum without modifying the draft plan, rather than its later decision to make the plan. Since that decision had been published more than six weeks before Fylde Coast Farms’ claim for judicial review, the Planning Court held that the claim had been brought out of time.

The Court of Appeal dismissed Fylde Coast Farms’ appeal. It now appeals to the Supreme Court.

The case was heard on 9 March 2021 by a panel comprising Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Briggs, Lady Arden, Lord Sales and Lord Stephens.

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